Well, Well, Well: How Healthy Programs Add Healthy Hotel Profits

The hotel industry continues to be healthy, with one recent report forecasting increases in “occupancy, average daily room rate, revenue per available room, total operating revenue and gross operating profits from 2017 to 2018.” But growth is slowing after nearly a decade of continued building — a situation that usually precedes a downturn.

Hoteliers, of course, are always looking for new trends on the upswing, to counter any potential drops — and one trend propping to the top is wellness tourism. Forty-one per cent of the Millennial and Gen Z generations say they’ll pay a premium for healthier experiences, a fact that’s helped drive 14% growth in wellness tourism in just the past two years.

What does “wellness” mean to a hotel?

Once upon a time, hotel health and wellness might have meant a masseuse on call, a workout room or, on the upper end, a true spa on site. Today, wellness is as much a mindset as a menu of offerings, encompassing:

  • Physical fitness: A range of offerings, from gyms with the latest equipment to yoga classes and more exotic or personalized fitness opportunities.
  • Healthier eating: Local sourcing, organic ingredients, healthy grab-n-go selections and even portion control and calorie counting are all part of the new foodservice.
  • Mindfulness training: Mindfulness classes, guided relaxation and stress relief, and full-on weekends around meditation are increasingly common hotel draws.
  • Healthier, more holistic products: From the sheets on the beds to the supplies in the bath, guest preferences (and specialized needs, as for allergies) are given greater attention than ever. Also, having products that respect the health of the planet is becoming a “price of consideration” for the wellness-savvy traveler.

Who’s making wellness pay?

While wellness was once the turf of spa-centered boutique hotels, some of the biggest global chains are all learning to differentiate, and elevate, their offering with creative initiatives to tap into a “trend” already worth more than $600 million annually.

At Hyatt, wellness is a core business strategy that’s resulted both in small offerings — such as its menu program, “Food. Thoughtfully Sourced, Carefully Served” — as well as big, bold moves, including its recent acquisition of the health-conscoius Miraval Group of properties.

Marriott’s Westin group looks to be an active partner in its guests’ pursuit of wellness, with programs like Gear Lending, in which guests can get loans of New Balance fitness gear. The hotel chain is promoting its programs with a serious marketing investment, the recently launched, $30-million dollar “Let’s Rise” campaign.

Beyond tweaking the offerings of their large properties, the big players are also creating boutique wellness brands. IHG, the InterContinental Hotel Group, opened its first “ground up” wellness hotel in 2012. The Even brand hotels feature natural light, open spaces, “green walls” full of plants, full-size gyms, yoga classes, special menus, stand-up desks in-room — in short, a comprehensive approach to helping guests live well, stay well, and keep coming back.

Yes, the general outlook for the hotel industry is still good — but the outlook is even better for those with a healthy investment in wellness.

World Tourism Organization: Sustained Growth in International Tourism
Hotel Management magazine: Slow but Positive Hotel Growth Through 2018
Calmful Living: 4 Hotel Chains with Awesome Wellness Perks
eHotelier: 5 Powerful Hotel Health and Wellness Trends
BusinessWire: Top 5 Trends Iimpacting Hotels
Hotel Business: Survey: Wellness, Connectedness Important to Meeting Planners”
Hotel Management: Why Westin, Hyatt and IHG see profit in wellness